Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) yesterday urged the government to prepare for a wave of Taiwanese coming back from overseas for the Lunar New Year holiday, as the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening in many countries.
“It is nearly the season for people to return home for the Lunar New Year holidays, but Taiwan’s capacity for prevention efforts against COVID-19 still needs strengthening,” Lee said at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, at which amendments to the Commercial Port Act (商港法) and the Seafarer Act (船員法) were being deliberated.
During the Lunar New Year period last year, the most inbound passengers in a single day was 88,676 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, and the lowest was 60,777 — an average of 68,613 per day, Lee said.
“Due to the current severe situation around the world, it will not be 60,000 to 70,000 per day like last year. Even at a conservative estimate of 3 percent, we could still have about 1,800 to 2,100 [arrivals] per day during the Lunar New Year holiday,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said he expected the number of inbound passengers to be about 10 percent of last year’s figure.
“At 10 percent, that is 6,000 inbound passengers per day during the Lunar New Year holiday, but we do not have enough disease prevention taxis to take passengers to quarantine hotels, as the current capacity is 600 people and the highest daily capacity is 2,500,” Lee said.
“The most conservative estimate for the Lunar New Year period requires capacity for least 2,000 people per day, so the [Ministry of Transportation and Communications] must expand the disease prevention taxi fleet,” Lee said.
Capacity at quarantine hotels also faces a stern test, with about 200 hotels nationwide providing 16,464 rooms for quarantine, he said.
“The occupancy rate has reached 65 percent, with about 10,700 people currently in these quarantine rooms,” he said. “When adding the upcoming wave of returns, we might not have enough rooms.”
He demanded that ministry officials impose stricter measures for monitoring and inspecting quarantine hotels, as hotels can allocate whole floors for quarantine purposes, while the other floors have regular guests.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is aware that Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong has weakened any possible sentiment for a “one country, two systems” arrangement for Taiwan, and has instructed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politburo member Wang Huning (王滬寧) to develop new ways of defining cross-strait relations, Japanese news magazine Nikkei Asia reported on Thursday. A former professor of international politics at Fu Dan University, Wang is expected to develop a dialogue that could serve as the foundation for cross-strait unification, and Xi plans to use the framework to support a fourth term as president, Nikkei Asia quoted an anonymous source
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